Monday, 20 February 2012

Language learning by osmosis

A fabulous consequence of raising our daughter as a bilingual with my non-native language is that her Papa is picking the language up by osmosis.

Papa had a French tutor for a few years until last September when his tutor could no longer provide lessons. Since then, outwardly his language learning had come to a halt. As we all know, language needs to be nurtured and even a native language speaker can lose their skills if they stop actively using their language for prolonged periods of time.

But Papa's nature is to listen and soak up.... quietly and diligently without making a fuss...and then, suddenly... I realised - he has been soaking up the conversations between Poppette and I and now understands so much more than he ever did. To the point where, should I say to Poppette in French, "Let's ask Daddy to go and run your bath and put on the bubble machine" I don't even have to translate anymore.... Papa just gets up and gets on with his little mission... it's brilliant to see another facet of language learning in action.


  1. We have this as well! It's exciting but I sometimes try to say things in a way which I know my husband won't understand so I can give A this incentive to translate for him. There are a few words also which everyone in our family says in French rather than English - like 'trotinette', 'pantalons' and 'winnie l'ourson'. It's great when the whole family becomes more multi-lingual.

    1. Hi Nesomja

      I would love to pick your brains a little.... if you feel comfortable in doing so would you send me your email address to and I will drop you a line